Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why SharePoint 2007?

It is rare for a technology product to attract as much attention as SharePoint has in recent years. The industry has historically paid little attention to new product suites, particularly those related to web design. SharePoint products and technologies, however, have managed to excite and rejuvenate industry followers, causing them to take notice of the ease of use, scalability, flexibility, and powerful document management capabilities within the product. A number of organizational needs have spurred the adoption of SharePoint technologies. Some of the most commonly mentioned requirements include the following:

A need for better document management than the file system can offer—This includes document versioning, check-out and check-in features, adding metadata to documents, and better control of document access (by using groups and granular security). The high-level need is simply to make it easier for users to find the latest version of the document or documents they need to do their jobs, and ultimately to make them more efficient in those jobs.

Improved collaboration between users with a minimal learning curve— Although virtually everyone has a different definition of what comprises collaboration, a functional definition is a technology solution that allows users to interact efficiently with each other using software products to share documents and information in a user friendly environment. In regard to SharePoint, this typically refers to document and meeting workspaces, site collections, discussion lists, integration of instant messaging and presence information, and integration with the Office suite of applications. Integration with Office applications is a key component: Most organizations do not want to force users to learn a new set of tools to collaborate more effectively because users generally resist such requirements.

A better intranet—Although most companies have an intranet in place, the consensus is that it is too static, that it is not user friendly, and that every change has to go through IT or the “web guy.” This level of request generally comes from a departmental manager, team lead, or project manager frustrated with their inability to publish information to a select group of users and regularly update resources their team needs to do their jobs.

A centralized way to search for information—Rather than using the “word of mouth” search engine (that is, asking coworkers via email for a specific document), there should be an engine in place that allows the user to quickly and efficiently find particular documents. The user can search for documents that contain certain words; documents created or modified during a certain timeframe; documents authored by a specific person; or documents that meet other criteria, such as file type.

Creation of a portal—Many definitions exist for the term portal, but a general definition that a portal is a web-enabled environment that allows Internet and, potentially, external users to access company intellectual resources and software applications. A portal typically extends standard intranet functionality by providing features such as single sign-on, powerful search tools, and access to other core company applications such as help desk, human resources software, educational resources, and other corporate information and applications.

SharePoint is a set of products and technologies with informative and collaborative web-based capabilities that help people create, organize, distribute, and maintain stored knowledge. SharePoint web sites and pages are commonly used to build intranet and extranet portals and team sites, as well as public-facing Internet sites.

SharePoint is a great platform upon which to build applications and provides many key services in the greater story of the Microsoft Application Platform. SharePoint shows great maturity in terms of its user interface, database design, and workflow and communication features. It provides a standard interface with standard navigation, enabling users to focus on tools and information, not on learning how to navigate new menu controls.

SharePoint helps resolve database and business logic issues by providing a powerful complement to structured data - that is, a managed environment to store unstructured data that gets the information and business rules onto the network and out of local Excel files. SharePoint takes advantage of the first workflow platform built into an operating system and makes it easy for developers and power users to use Windows Workflow Foundation (WF) to automate business processes.

A problem I faced with WSS 3.0 configuration

I’d like to share a typical problem recently I faced with WSS 3.0 configuration on a Windows 2003 Server.

I created a virtual machine with Windows 2003 OS and named it “myvpc” in a hypothetical workgroup viz. “WKGP” (I initially planned to use it in stand-alone mode). Then I installed all available updates to the Windows Server and .Net framework 3.5 with IIS followed by Stand-alone installation of Latest WSS 3.0. The default team site and central administration site were working smooth. I even created another application using central administration.

Later I changed my mind and thought that it would be better if I include this virtual machine into our company’s local intranet Domain. At this point of time I had to change the PC name from “myvpc” to “SUDEV-VPC” due to some or other reasons.

Now, suddenly none of the SharePoint sites were accessible even from the “localhost“! I opened IIS console and noticed that “SharePoint Admin” site was stopped!!! I checked the systems log and found many errors stating “Cannot connect to SQL Server. MYVPC\Microsoft##SSEE not found“. I was surprised to see this, why SharePoint did not understand the change in name of computer.

I just thought lets run the “Configuration Wizard” again for the WSS. I did it but it failed too at the step-5 saying “Could not access search service configuration database“.

I uninstalled the WSS 3.0 completely and restarted the OS. I noticed that IIS don’t have the sites I created using WSS anymore.

I installed the WSS again, ran the configuration wizard but just to get a disappointment. The error continues to occur. This time I checked IIS and found that the sites I created with previous installation have been created again on the same port (sounds strange again, how new installation of SP came to know about it?)

The WSS 3.0 was using same database (Windows Internal Database aka SQL Server Embedded Edition). But at some location it was using previous computer name and at other it was using new name. (Surprised?)

So I thought lets re-install the Windows Internal Database itself. There is no direct way to uninstall it. So I uninstall the WSS 3.0 first. And then with help of MSDN link (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc708610.aspx) I uninstalled the Windows Internal Database as well. I removed the data files from “%windir%\SYSMSI\SSEE” as per their suggestion followed by a system restart.

Now I installed the WSS 3.0 in stand-alone mode, ran the configuration wizard and guess what? The configuration wizard ran successfully and I was able to access the default team site and admin site again.

It took quite some time to figure out this solution but it worked for me. In your case you may need to retain the backup of the content database and configuration database before un-install and install of WSS.

Microsoft Announces Visual Studio 2010

Microsoft is offering a first look at the next version of its Visual Studio integrated development environment (IDE) and platform, which will be named Visual Studio 2010 and the .Net Framework 4.0.

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/vstudio/products/cc948977.aspx

There’s a lot promised in the new release (expected to ship, duh, in 2010), from improved software testing tools to software engineering modeling capabilities to integrated development and database functions for the application lifecycle management (ALM).

Microsoft is putting its attention on improving Visual Studio for the benefit of every one of its users—from the CIO to the software architect to the enterprise developer to the software testing team.

A key goal in VSTS 2010, says Microsoft, is to help democratize ALM by bringing all members of a development organization into the application development lifecycle, and remove many of the existing barriers to integration.

One way that Visual Studio 2010 will do this is to break down the ALM roles, from the business decision maker (who needs a project overview but doesn’t want to be bogged down in details) to the lead developer or system architect (who enables the software infrastructure and draws the blueprint), to the developer who writes the code and the database administrator (DBA) who integrates it with the company database to the testers (who make sure the software is of high quality).

For the IT manager or CIO, says Mendlen, VSTS will give clarity and visibility into the state of the project throughout the lifecycle, using Team Foundation Server-enabled dashboards customized for her role. The dashboard can answer high level questions such as ongoing project cost or project status.

Agile Tools, Built-In

Visual Studio 2010 also will sport features to integrate Agile methodologies into the tech stack using Team Foundation Server. Skinner explains, “We’ll include in the [VSTS] box an Excel workbook for teams that are leveraging, say, the Scrum process so they can get burndown from their project.” These features, he says, will let Agile teams track daily progress, see projects broken down into iterations and use sprints.

Putting Quality Earlier in the Development Lifecycle

One sometimes-stressful interaction in the application development lifecycle is the tension between developers and testers. Developers have to do a better job of testing their code before they send it off to the software testers. Developers don’t always know which unit tests they have to run, and often they don’t have the time or inclination (your own cynicism-meter can determine which) to run the tests anyway.

Merging of Developer, DBA Roles

Most of these changes are a ways off, though you can expect to see some of this functionality demonstrated at the upcoming Microsoft Professional Developers’ Conference. One item, however, takes effect immediately.

As Microsoft sees it, the roles of the database-centric developer and “regular” developer are less distinct than they once were, so the company is merging its VSTS database and development products. As of October 1, those who belong to the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) and currently own Visual Studio Team System 2008 Development Edition or Visual Studio Team System 2008 Database Edition will receive for free the Visual Studio Team System 2008 Development Edition, Visual Studio Team System 2008 Database Edition, Visual Studio 2005 Team System for Software Developers and Visual Studio 2005 Team System for Database Professionals.

THE MOSS ARCHITECTURE


Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 can, working with other components of the Microsoft Office 2007 suite of applications, provide the functionality and benefits described previously. However, the amount of functionality derived from an MOSS installation depends on the features implemented and activated, as well as whether or not the MOSS environment is used to extend other building blocks, such as WSS and SQL Server. Figure 1 illustrates the structure of a complete MOSS environment. MOSS provides much of the functionality, but that functionality can be enhanced by the inclusion of other extended capability systems.

The MOSS Common Framework

MOSS 2007 supports other server-based applications and services with a set of common administrative services, as shown in Figure 2. The primary elements in the common group of services are (as shown in Figure 2, left to right):


Collaboration

This service supports discussions and shared task lists on server-based portals and determines the status of each member of a collaborative team, which could be online, offline, away, in a meeting, on the phone, and so on.

Enterprise Content Management (ECM)

Using this service, users can create data validation and workflow procedures for Office 2007 documents through the Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF). MOSS includes a variety of predefined workflows, but users can create custom workflows using MOSS Designer 2007 or Visual Studio 2005.

Excel Services

This service provides the ability for users to display all or selected portions of server-based Excel workbooks using a web browser. An Excel web services application programming interface (API) is available to support server-based calculations and complex graphics renderings.

Portal

At the core of MOSS is the portal manager, which has been brought forward and upgraded from the previous version, Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003. The portal services provide the user experience and content display functions used by all other SharePoint functions.

Web Content Management (WCM)

The capabilities enabled by the WCM service include support for Office SharePoint Designer 2007 for web template development, and web authoring using a template, site navigation services, security and access control, and site publishing.

MOSS Application Services

MOSS includes or supports a wide range of application- and activity-related services to facilitate information sharing, collaboration, and document management. As shown in Figure 3, these services include:

Document Libraries

A series of document libraries that allow a company to manage, organize, and categorize its information in a consistent form. There are three primary levels in the document libraries: the Managed Document Library, the Divisional Library, and the Translation Library.

Web Parts

MOSS contains a number of predefined ASP.NET web page segments that can be included in user- or information-based portal pages or used as standalone web pages. A few of the Web Parts available out-of-the-box are document roll-up Web Parts, Members and Colleagues Web Parts, and Social Networking Web Parts. Custom Web Parts can be created using Visual Studio 2005.

Workflows

MOSS includes a wide range of predefined workflows, which are in effect work unit scripts that define the step-by-step processes to be performed in order to accomplish a given work product. MOSS workflows are built on the Windows Workflow Foundation, which is a part of the .NET Framework.

Scorecards

MOSS 2007 supports the business information report units created under the Microsoft Business Scorecard Manager 2005, although this particular feature has been upgraded to the Microsoft PerformancePoint Server 2007. Scorecards are custom business performance tracking reports.

People Search

This feature allows users to search for people and information defining what or who they know. This feature supports indexing, Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) directories, and Active Directory distribution lists.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

A KPI presents business intelligence information in a visual way to signal how a certain product, function, or any other business activity is doing. For example, a KPI might display a green light if customer returns are below a preset level, a yellow light if they approach the accepted level and a red light if they exceed it. MOSS includes a variety of KPIs out-of-the-box that work with Excel 2007 and WSS.

Dashboards

A dashboard is essentially a web page that contains a number of elements that can be automatically updated independently, as well as lists, links, and other commonly accessed elements. The analogy is to an automobile dashboard. MOSS supports the creation of custom dashboards that can include KPIs, Excel workbooks, and information from SQL Server Reporting Services.

Report Center

The Report Center hosts predefined and custom web pages and sites that display, manage, and maintain links to reports and spreadsheets.

My Site

Perhaps one of the user-friendlier features of MOSS, MySite allows a user to customize a personalized view (using the Personalization Sites feature) of existing portal web pages, such as MyFinanceWeb or MyBenefits, based on their user profile and access permissions information.

User Profiles

User profile information from Active Directory is used by the Notification Service to target alerts to appropriate users, Social Networking to define common interests, and the Memberships Web Part for group and distribution list memberships.

Business Data Applications

MOSS provides a number of services that support the cataloging, storage, and access to business information and links related to each defined line-of-business (LOB) area using the Business Data Catalog, Business Data SharePoint Lists and Web Parts, and Business Data Actions services.

Note that the services and applications in the preceding list are only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. MOSS includes a wide range of administrative services that can be employed to create a customized environment suited to any particular company.

MOSS Core Services

As shown in Figure 4, MOSS includes a number of core services that enable a company to get up and running quickly and provide users with ease of use and a variety of tools to help increase their productivity. The major services supported by MOSS out-of-the-box are:

Templates

Like the document templates included with each of the Office 2007 applications, MOSS includes templates for a variety of web pages (sites), lists, and documents that can be deployed to enable collaboration, reporting, and timed or triggered events.

Personalization

Users can be defined by their name, position, location, job, department, work responsibilities, and other characteristics. This information, along with other identification information entered in other Office 2007 applications, such as Outlook 2007, is used by additional MOSS services, like MySite, to create views and information feeds that meet the needs of the user.

Targeting

This feature, brought forward from Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003, develops target audiences for certain documents, reports, and functions using a rule-based criteria, groups defined in WSS 3.0, and Outlook 2007 and Exchange distribution lists.

Single Sign-on

This service is one that most users really appreciate. MOSS provides a Single Sign-on (SSO) capability that stores and maps user credentials for use in signing into back-end applications and third-party systems that are included in the user’s portal. However, in cases where a company already has an SSO system in use, MOSS supports pluggable SSO that allows non-MOSS SSOs to be used.

Site Directory

This service is basically what its name suggests, a directory of web sites and network locations referenced by the system. It also includes a mechanism that can be used to scan for broken links, changed site Uniform Resource Locators (URLs), or missing sites.

Business Data Catalog

This service enables MOSS to merge data from external applications and back-end systems into its lists, Web Parts, and search results, as well as in custom applications developed under the .NET environment.

Navigation

This service manages the navigation links included on personal web pages and other web-browser supported displays provided through Office 2007 and MOSS.

Alerts

This feature enables users to identify and tag events and data elements that are then continuously monitored for changes that fall within the parameters set by users defining specific conditions. The Notification service then sends an alert to the user indicating the condition that has occurred.

Information Rights Management (IRM)

This feature is present throughout the Office 2007 applications suite to enable a company to protect its data from unauthorized access and use. IRM is integrated with the Rights Management Services (RMS) of Windows Server 2003, which allows system administrators to specify exactly who can access data, what they can do with the data, and how they can access the data.

Search

MOSS includes extensive data and document search capabilities that support search functions across an enterprise-level network, intranet, and even the Internet.

Excel Services

This general service includes three specific services:

Excel Calculation Services (ECS)

This is the core of the Excel Services. ECS performs real-time calculations on Excel workbooks in conjunction with Office Excel 2007, incorporates external data, and manages active sessions.

Excel Web Access (EWA)

A predefined Web Part that provides the display and interaction with an Excel 2007 workbook illustrated by a web browser using Dynamic Hierarchical Tag Markup Language (DHTML) and JavaScript as part of a dashboard or embedded into another Web Part page.

Excel Web Services (EWS)

This is an MOSS web service that provides an API to support the development of custom applications that incorporate an Excel 2007 workbook.

It is the combination and synergy of the MOSS services and functions that provide the wide range of capability, productivity, and collaborative environment through which a company can better manage, control, share, and report its business functions and information resources.

SQL Server Reporting Service – Few Important Concepts And Overview

SQL Server Reporting Services, due to its robust but user friendly architecture, is an obvious choice for Enterprise or in-house reporting, for product management, sales, and human resource and finance departments. Its flexibility makes it an ideal for usage in applications as well (Deliver User-Friendly Reports from Your Application with SQL Server Reporting Services - MSDN Magazine August 2004). Reporting Services offer various delivery methods, from ftp to email and it provides various rendering formats therefore it makes adds easiness to business to business reporting. Similarly because of its flexibility and industry standard security model, it makes extranet and secure internet reporting easily achievable.

The reporting system comprises for following main components.

Main Components of SSRS

Report Server & Report Server Database

Report Server is an integrated web service which controls report generation and management. Report Server database is a SQL server database which is used as data dictionary about reports (catalogue, groups) and caching. SQL server agent is used for scheduling the reports.

Report Manager 
An ASP.NET based Web interface for managing the reports, setting security and user permissions.

Report Designer is considered as a part of reporting services in Microsoft documentation but because RDL (Report definition language) is an XML based open standard, any vendor can implement it and therefore a single tool can’t be categorized as report designer. However, Microsoft provides a graphical report authoring tool with Visual Studio.NET 2003 or later for creating reports which automatically creates RDL markup at the backend.

Reporting services were designed with concept of disparate data sources in mind. A single report can retrieve data from multiple heterogeneous databases and render it to make it look like it’s from a single source. It provides built-in windows authentication security however one can write custom security wrapper to fit particular enterprise needs.

With SQL Server reporting services, multiple delivery methods and formats work like a charm. You design a generic report and reporting server takes care of exporting it into HTML, Excel, PDF, WAR(web archive), TIFF, CSV and XML format. As always, one can write his own custom format writer wrapper class for any custom format.

Reporting Services Delivery Formats

Reporting Services Delivery Formats

Reporting Services provide four distinct formats of report delivery also known as subscription in Reporting Services arena; Individual subscription, data driven subscription, SMTP delivery and file share directory (FTP) based subscriptions.

Reporting Services Architecture

Reporting services architecture

Above diagram schematically explains Reporting services architecture

Beside the code segments which can be written within a report in VB.NET, these API provides makes it more programmable. The application program interface can be classified into following categories.

  1. Data processing extension application programming interface (API)
  2. Delivery extension API
  3. Rendering extension API
  4. Security extension API
  5. Web service API
  6. Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) configuration API

Interactive interfaces are another salient feature of SQL Server Reporting Services. Reports designed in SQL server reporting services supports charts, document map, freeform, cross tab matrix, sub reports and tables. Reports can also be parameterized and event driven (supports actions). Management is one of the most important parts in any reporting system; SQL server reporting services has it all planned. It manages jobs from a user friendly console, provides personalization "my reports", tracks report history, manage shared data sources, provide search, subscription and snapshot features with shared subscription from one stop shop, the management console. Reporting Services supports report caching and stores reports execution data in execution logs,

Report Generation and Publishing

Report Generation and Publishing

As defined in the diagram above, the process of report generation and publishing consists of the following main steps.

  1. Reporting server engine (Report Processor) receives the request for a particular report. A request includes parameters and formatting instructions.
  2. Report Processor retrieves the report definition on the basis of request.
  3. For the corresponding RDL, the report processor then retrieves the report data for specified data sources.
  4. Report Processor performs transformation on reporting data and sends the document data along with schema to rendering engine (rendering extension).
  5. The extension publishes the final rendered report.
  6. The following steps are basics of how reporting services work. The extensions (data processing extensions, rendering extensions etc) can be custom built and wrap around the existing set of API to provide extended functionality.

SSRS Integration with SharePoint 2007

SSRS Integration with SharePoint 2007

Configuration:

  • SQL Server 2005 SP2 is installed on report server in Native mode along with WSS Object Model (farm install)
  • SSRS Configuration Tool creates a new Report Server database in “SharePoint Integration mode”
  • SSRS Add-In is installed on WSS 2007
  • WSS Central Admin web pages register SSRS web service and windows service with WSS farm

Database Integration Points

  • WSS Content Database stores the master copy of SSRS items
  • Schedules, caching, and subscriptions are stored in SSRS database only

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Gas and Dust of the Lagoon Nebula


This beautiful cosmic cloud is a popular stop on telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius. Afer all I'm also Saggy only and equally handsome ;).
Eighteenth century cosmic toyurist Charles Messier cataloged the bright nebula as M8, while modern day astronomers recognize the Lagoon Nebula as an active stellar nursery about 5,000 light-years distant, in direction of the center of our Milky Way.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Why Google Changed Their FavICON

You may have noticed that Google has a new favicon, the small icon you see in your browser next to the URL or in your bookmarks list.

Few days ago Google changed their favicon, from “Big G” to “small g“. It was a surprise! Why would google change the “Big G” which is recognised all over the world!

Lots of questions filled my head…
• Why would google change the “Big G” which is recognised all over the world and create a dip in its brand recognition.
• Is this one of the google’s marketing trick to create buzz(as if they need one!)
• Is it trying to re-brand? (why would they do! everything is working more than fine for them)

No need to ponder more... I just "googled" it and found the answer on their own blog.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

How Cloud Computing Works

Inside This Article you'll find
1. Introduction to How Cloud Computing Works
2. Cloud Computing Architecture
3. Cloud Computing Applications and
4. Cloud Computing Concerns

read more | digg story

Ten NASA Inventions You Might Use Every Day

Although most people today will never set foot on the moon, everyone likely comes in contact with a NASA by-product every day. Partnering with various research teams and companies, NASA continues to spawn a vast array of new technologies and products that have improved our daily lives.

read more | digg story

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Chips stack up in third dimension

Stacks of chips, one on top of the other, will power the next generation of superfast PCs, IBM has announced.

Laying chips vertically, instead of side by side, reduces the distance data has to travel by 1,000 times, making the chips faster and more efficient.

Big blue has said that it will start producing the compact silicon sandwiches in 2008.

Chip manufacturer Intel has previously announced that it is also developing similar vertical chip technology.

Last year, the firm unveiled a chip with 80 processing cores and capable of more than a trillion calculations per second (teraflops) that used vertical stacking technology.

Other firms, such as Tru-Si, have also developed techniques for creating 3D stacked chips.

High rise

Today most chips are laid out side-by-side, connected by wires.

The new technique involves placing chips directly on top of each other, connected by tungsten filled pipes, etched through the silicon.

These "through-silicon vias" (TSV), as they are known, eliminate the need for wires, increasing the speed at which information can flow between chips.

It has taken researchers at IBM a decade to refine the precise technique for mass producing the multi-storey chips.

"This allows us to move 3D chips from the 'lab to the fab' across a range of applications," said Lisa Su, vice president, semiconductor research and development center at IBM.

The first application will be in wireless communications chips. Using TSV will increase the efficiency of the chips by up to 40%, the firm says.

Speed boost

IBM is also exploring use of the technique in their multi-core chips.

As more and more cores are added to chips it becomes increasingly difficult to deliver uniform power to each one. By stacking them vertically and reducing the length of the connections between them, IBM hopes to overcome this problem,

Using these high-rise multi-core chips should also increase processor speeds and reduce power consumption.

Advantages like these also make 3D chips attractive for use in supercomputers.

IBM says it is developing the technology for use in the current fastest supercomputer in the world, Blue Gene/L.

The ultra powerful number cruncher, installed at the US Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is already capable of 280.6 trillions calculations per second.

The 3D stacked chips would allow a "new generation of supercomputers", IBM said.

The first chips will be available by the end of 2007 with full scale production expected to begin in 2008.

Friday, June 06, 2008

The free online SQL Formatter -- SQLinForm

SQLinForm is an automatic SQL code formatter for all major databases ( ORACLE, SQL Server, DB2 / UDB, Sybase, Informix, PostgreSQL, MySQL etc) with many formatting options .

  • No installation needed.
  • No database driver necessary.
  • Even incomplete SQL statements or SQL statements with syntax errors are formatted
  • Run it out of your browser
  • It is secure. No SQL statement is transferred from the applet over the internet
  • Written for Java and .NET environment

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Google Shell

One more stuff thing for Google Lovers. It's Google shell (goosh, it's unofficial though). It's again a cool and simple thing developed for Google Lovers like me. Though you can wonder what is the need of such a thing, but hey, you never know where it can be used. I like the web, images and video searching options. And surprisingly, it's pretty damn fast, as if we are really using a shell. Check out this link.

http://www.goosh.org/

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Microsoft warns Windows users about Safari security flaw

Microsoft has released details on a flaw in the Safari browser that, coupled with the correct Windows or Internet Explorer vulnerabilities, could be used to execute malware. Changing the default download location on Safari is enough for a workaround.

read more digg story

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Creating Custom SharePoint Timer Jobs

In previous versions of SharePoint (or other platforms), if you had some task you wanted to perform on a scheduled basis, you'd have to either create a console EXE and schedule it to run via Windows Task Scheduler (ala AT.EXE) or create a Windows Service that went to sleep for a period of time. In order to install (and maintain) these tasks, you had to have console access to your production SharePoint (or other app) servers... something IT or admins wouldn't easily hand out.

Addressing this issue, Microsoft has added something called timer jobs to Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007. Microsoft uses timer jobs to do things like dead web cleanup (purging unused sites from site collections) among others. To see what other timer jobs are out there, from Central Administration, click Operations and then Timer Job Definitions. Not only does Microsoft use timer jobs in MOSS, but you can create your own custom timer jobs to do your own scheduled tasks. What's nice about this is once your timer job has been installed (something you can easily do with a solution & a feature), you can view it's status through Central Administration and even disable/enable it... all without console access to your production servers! Another cool thing is that when your job runs, MOSS passes it the GUID of the content database for the site the job is registered with. You can use this GUID to obtain a reference to a content database, then a site collection, and finally a site within the collection (SPWeb).

How do you build one? Well, unfortunately the documentation is lacking here... there isn't a single article in the SDK talking about creating custom timer jobs and the necessary objects aren't well documented either.

MVP Andrew Connel has described the Custom Timer Jobs on SharePoint well in depth on his blog http://www.andrewconnell.com/blog/articles/CreatingCustomSharePointTimerJobs.aspx. Awsome functionality. Thanks Andrew.

Incredible pictures of one of Earth's last uncontacted tribe

They are members of one of Earth's last uncontacted tribes, who live along the Brazilian-Peruvian frontier, and are thought never to have had any contact with the outside world.

read more | digg story

Monday, June 02, 2008

Hitachi Maxell claims new Li-ion battery with 20x the power

Hitachi Maxell and a number of universities and firms in Japan have created a design for a Li-Ion battery that will last 20x longer than current unitsElectric cars with 2000miles range on single charge, cell phones requiring outlet once in a month, laptops with batteries for 1 week. Lets hope technology finds its way to life sooner than later.

read more | digg story

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Windows 7 demo: all multitouch and no meat

The first public demonstration of Windows 7 was made at the D6 conference, showing off Windows 7's multitouch features. Notably absent from the demo was anything new.

read more | digg story

Comma separated list of values of single Database table field

Many times you need to create a comma seperated list of values in a table. Here is a line of T-SQL solution to get comma separated list of values of single field of a database table.
DECLARE @commaSeparatedVal AS VARCHAR(MAX);
SELECT @commaSeparatedVal = ISNULL(@commaSeparatedVal +',','') + CONVERT(VARCHAR,[SKU]) FROM PRODUCT
PRINT @commaSeparatedVal

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

New Google Talk in Lab

Google Talk, Labs Edition is an experimental release of the Google  Talk client. It has many of the same great features as the Google Talk  Gadget, including instant messaging, emoticons, and group chat. Google  Talk, Labs Edition also comes with new desktop notifications from  Calendar, Orkut, and Gmail. You can download it from

http://www.google.com/talk/labsedition/.

browse discussion on http://groups.google.com/group/google-talk-labs-edition-discussion-group/

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Importance of !important in CSS

Do you know What does !important mean in CSS?, an "!important" declaration (the keywords "!" and "important" follow the declaration) this takes high precedence over a normal declaration. And can be framed in this way, this means that the styles are applied in order as they are read by the browser.

CSS it tries to create a balance of power between author and user style sheets. By default, rules in an author's style sheet override those in a user's style sheet. But in CSS1, this is in other way round - Author "!important" rules took precedence over User "!important" rules.


For Example:
User's Style Sheet:
    1: <style> 
    2:   p{font-size: 2em !important;} 
    3:   p{font-style: italic;} 
    4: </style>

Author's Style Sheet:
    1: <style> 
    2:   p{font-size: 3em;} 
    3:   p{font-style: normal;} 
    4: </style> 

If you see in the above instance, the first rule in the User's Style Sheet has "!important" declaration, which will overrides the first rule in the Author's Style Sheet. And if you observe for the second rule in User's Style Sheet it does not contain "!important" so this will be ruled out because here second rule in the Author's Style Sheet has got high preference so the HTML will render by taking size as "p{font-style: normal;}"

If you would like to know more on this, then check with the w3 site:
w3.org and move to the section called "6.4.2 !important rules"

Monday, May 26, 2008

Download A Firefox Version that speaks your language

The award-winning open source Web browser Firefox 3 Release Candidate 1 is available in more than 45 languages (including Gujarati and Punjabi) as a public preview release intended for developer testing and community feedback. It includes new features as well as dramatic improvements to performance, memory usage and speed.

Check out http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/all-rc.html for more information and download Firefox 3 RC1.


Regards,

Sudev Gandhi

Disney builds virtual bridge for interactive games

Disney is bridging the gap between gaming and virtual worlds. Disney Interactive Studios on Thursday formally launched DGamer, a free avatar-based community for U.S. buyers of games the company...

read more | digg story

Friday, May 23, 2008

The "Hello World" Program, in 366 Programming Languages!

"Hello World" is the traditional first program you write when learning a new language, first appearing in K&R's "The C Programming Language" book in 1978. Since then it has been implemented in almost every programming language on the planet. This collection has it in 366 coding languages and 58 human ones! Is your favourite here?

read more | digg story

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Blog From Google Docs

Hi All,

I'm just exploring this exciting feature from Google Docs. You can directly publish your online documents as blogs in simple steps. One more reason to love Google.

Regards,

Sudev Gandhi

ODF Wins the Office Document Format War

Office 2007 Service Pack 2 will bring improved XML support to the office suite -- but it will be to ODF and not Microsoft's own format.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

China Earthquake buried 32 sources of radiation

More than 30 sources of radiation were buried by debris from the massive earthquake in central China last week and all have either been recovered or safely cordoned off, state media reported Tuesday. A French nuclear expert said the radioactive sources likely came from materials used in hospitals, factories or in research, not for weapons.

read more | digg story

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Google File System - Google's core storage platform

Google File System - large distributed log structured file system in which they throw in a lot of data. Reliable scalable storage is a core need of any application. GFS is Google's core storage platform.Google File System (GFS) is a proprietary distributed file system developed by Google for its own use. Its point is both to assure reliablity by using redundant copies and to allow individual most used data to selectively receive more resources (more dedicated hardware or/and redundant copies).GFS is optimized for Google's core data storage needs, web searching, which can generate enormous amounts of data that needs to be retained; Google File System grew out of an earlier Google effort, "BigFiles", developed by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in the early days of Google, while it was still located in Stanford. The data is stored persistently, in very large, multiple gigabyte-sized files (around 100GB) which are only extremely rarely deleted, overwritten, or shrunk; files are usually appended to or read. It is also designed and optimized to run on Google's computing clusters, the nodes of which consist of cheap, "commodity" computers, which means precautions must be taken against the high failure rate of individual nodes and the subsequent data loss. Other design decisions select for high data throughputs, even when it comes at the cost of latency.

read more digg story

Bigtable: A Distributed Storage System for Structured Data

Bigtable is a distributed storage system for managing structured data that is designed to scale to a very large size: petabytes of data across thousands of commodity servers. Many projects at Google store data in Bigtable, including web indexing, Google Earth, and Google Finance.

read more digg story

Ten technology trends that will shape 2008

Grid computing

India is the fastest adopter of grid computing in the world, according to Oracle’s Grid Index IV. Oracle should know, since it has 70 customers in India using its grid solutions.

Grid computing is applying the resources of many computers in a network to a single problem at the same time. It is not a new phenomenon. Research organisations, government agencies and universities have been using this concept for years. What’s new is that Indian corporates are now latching on to the concept.

Some of the enterprises using grid computing in India include the Gujarat Electricity Board, Saraswat Bank, National Stock Exchange, Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation, General Insurance Company, Syndicate Bank, Ashok Leyland, Maruti Suzuki India Ltd and Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad.

Last year saw two major developments that will prove important for the adoption and acceptance of grid computing in India. First was the Computational Research Laboratories (CRL) — a subsidiary of Tata Sons —developing Eka, the world’s fourth fastest computer and two the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing’s (CDAC’s) Garuda finally got off the ground.

For all those chief technology officers who are constantly looking at reducing their hardware costs Grid Computing may provide an answer, say analysts. Traditionally, companies bought hardware to support certain applications. However, these applications have peak processing hours and slack time. Grid computing takes advantage of the slack time and transfers the processing loads on systems that are being underutilised.

“Indian businesses are going global. As part of their growth strategy, they have to take risks and decisions – whether it means investing in people or technology. Organisations from sectors like telecom, financial services, travel, construction & engineering, media and utilities are convinced of the benefits of grid computing because it allows for superior scalability and better return on investment,” explains SPS Grover, vice-president, Technology Business Unit, Oracle India.

Sunny side up

Photovoltaics (PV) promise to remain a hot topic in 2008. PV is the creation of electricity from a light source – sunlight, for instance.

A basic photovoltaic, also known as a solar cell, is made of materials like silicon and thin-filaments, commonly used in the micro-electronics industry. These are capital-intensive projects. PV modules connect many solar cells together and mount them on a frame or platform. Their margins are better.

India is becoming an attractive solar market, and IT firms like Moser Baer, Signet Solar and Webel Solar are confident of the growth. The recent semiconductor policy sops and the government policy for “off-grid” electrification, are added incentives.

Electricity and social development go hand in hand. Rural areas of India are so far-flung that in some cases the small population and high cost of laying down power lines may not make it a viable proposition.

Conventional generator sets too may not be feasible due to recurring maintenance problems. The best solution under the circumstances is solar PV-based systems to generate power, run irrigation sets, heat water and lighting up homes and streetlights.

India offers 100 per cent subsidy on solar PV systems for remote village electrification; and for villages with electricity, the government offers 60 per cent subsidy. Moser Baer’s $880 million (around Rs 3,500 crore) 8-year sourcing tie-up with Norway based, REC Group furthers this line of thinking.

The deal could get Moser Baer Photo Voltaic (MBPV) around $1 billion in revenues over the period of the contract. The global photovoltaic market is expected to grow over six times to $40 billion by 2010.

Software on demand

Software-as-a-service or (Saas) is a trend that will see considerable uptake among business users, say analysts. Saas is a software application delivery model, wherein the user pays according to the usage rather than for owning the software (license fee).

With close to eight million small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in India, Saas providers can start counting cash in 2008. Ravi Shekhar Pandey, research manager, Springboard Research, feels that the year 2007 was of creating awareness among the users and 2008 will finally see Saas’ adoption increasing.

“Earlier Salesforce.com was the only vendor that was propagating the concept in India. But now even traditional software vendors like Microsoft, Oracle and SAP have introduced Saas in their suite of offerings,” he adds.

“In 2006-07, 79 per cent of the companies that we spoke to were aware of the concept but in 2007 it has increased to 90 per cent,” Pandey adds.

Enterprise mobility

The concept of anywhere-anytime connectivity has changed the way enterprises do business today. Connectivity is not just restricted to the globetrotting top executives but also to the sales team on the field. IDC projects that by 2009, there will be around 880 million mobile workers worldwide demonstrating that mobility is going mainstream.

Companies like Sun Pharmaceuticals, Dr Reddy’s and Parryware, a division of EID Parry (India) are some examples where handhelds have been used to automate the sales force for real-time information.

Rajiv Sehgal, head (Value Added Services), Airtel Enterprise Services in a seminar on enterprise mobility said, “Enterprises are implementing mobile solutions to realise benefits in terms of product enhancement.” Analysts predict that banking and financial segment is one segment that has a huge opportunity in going mobile.

Go mobile and entertain

Entertainment devices will abound this year. They will be with you on the move (your laptops, PDAs and cellphones), at airports, your workplace, home and more importantly, in your pockets. TVs (both LCDs and Plasmas) will becomes larger and cheaper, and so will high-end mobile screens, offering services like TV on mobile, gaming, social networking, etc.

Mobile TV — which enables TV services on handhelds such as mobiles, handheld TVs, car TV, GPS terminals, game devices, laptop PCs, and other portable devices — is also closer to seeing the light of day in India. It’s an important development given that there are almost 225 million mobiles in the country, of which around 30-40 per cent are TV-capable. Besides, it will help increase the average realisation per user (ARPU) for telecom operators.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has already initiated the process, and given its recommendations on January 3 based on the feedback it received from around 30 telecom players, broadcasters, technology providers and direct-to-home (DTH) players in September 2007.

The world over, a number of mobile operators have conducted successful mobile TV field trials. Mobile broadcasting commercial services have been introduced in countries like Korea, the US, Finland, and Germany.

In India too, Doordarshan has launched a Mobile TV pilot project, and is in the process of introducing commercial Mobile TV services. UK-based mobile applications developer ROK Entertainment Group too has launched its streamed mobile TV system (called Tiny TV) in India through BSNL.

Entertainment will also become increasingly interactive. IOL Broadband already started the trend by launching India's first IP-based on-demand television service (IPTV) a year ago. With IPTV offering from players like MTNL, Bharti and Reliance, the ‘on-demand’ entertainment is music to the ears of most people. It will also help increase the revenue for broadcasters and mobile operators.

Virtual nightmares ride high

Cybercrime is estimated to be a $105 billion market and looks set to grow this year as the complexity of cybercrimes intensifies.

The year 2008 is expected to be a year of an exponential increase in the activities of cyber criminals. Phishing — an attempt to criminally and fraudulently acquire sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords and credit card details continues to be a major concern during the year, claim security vendors.

Theft of intellectual property is expected to be another grave issue which needs to be tackled in the new year. “India is in the process of acquiring special technologies for cyber and digital frauds, international vendors of tools to trace cyber criminals, are now also showing interest in the Indain market,” says Computer Forensic Expert, Samir Datt.

Minister for Communication and Information Technology, A Raja, recently announced grants to enable the CBI install the latest technology enabling the investigative agency train officials in complex cybercrimes and also help in the mutual exchange of information with the Interpol.

The government is also in the process of amending the IT Act 2000 to address problems of data protection, data theft, e-commerce frauds and child pornography etc.

‘Open source’ makes inroads

‘Linux’— a free operating system (OS) as opposed to Microsoft Windows or Vista — is fast making inroads in the country.

Novell along with the Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT) is installing Suse Linux in around 40,000 desktops in the state.

This is the second-largest implementation of Linux on the desktop – the biggest one being that of around 60,000 desktops in Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India by Red Hat, which is estimated to have implemented over 200,000 desktop OS installations. Canara Bank too has around 10,000 Linux OS desktops.

Major firms and institutions like the LIC, Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI), IndiaBulls and HDFC use Linux on the servers, for “mission-critical” applications too.

Linux has gained the support of corporations such as IBM, Sun Microsystems, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Novell, and is used as an operating system for a wide variety of computer hardware, including desktop computers, supercomputers, and embedded devices such as mobile phones and routers.

In India, besides major firms, state governments in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Maharashtra too have started using Linux in a bid to promote “open-source” environments.

SMEs are picking up the cue since you can install Linux on your desktop or server and reduce your operation costs. Microsoft counters this line of thinking by saying that the total cost of ownership (TCO) of its OS is lower than that of Linux.

The open source community that promotes Linux pooh-poohs this argument. One fact, though, remains: Linux is robust, steady, virus-free to a great extent and most importantly, FREE. Which means you can download it from the Internet or get companies like Red Hat and Novell (in India) to install it on your machines and provide maintenance services for a nominal fee.

Linux on the desktop is not as popular as Linux on the server. The reason is that Linux as an OS is a little difficult to use, especially if you’ve been used to a Windows environment. For new users, it would hardly matter.

Moreover, the argument that Linux does not have adequate support and lacks drivers for audio, video and gaming hardly holds water any longer.

Face to face

If corporate security is the buzzword in 2008, then biometrics will be the most probable answer to all such concerns. Biometric solutions for industrial applications surged to Rs 150 crore as an industry, according to a Frost and Sullivan report.

Although 80 per cent of the biometrics business still comes from the corporate sector, but the adoption of biometric systems among residential complexes is rising steadily and is expected to bring in the next phase of growth in 2008.

Also gaining traction are biometric segments like iris scan, middleware, multi-modality, voice recognition and signature verification.

The Indian biometrics market, which mainly consists of access control applications, is used extensively by the Defence and Security industry and fingerprint identification systems by the police administration, is now rapidly moving towards biometric regime.

The finance ministry too has set up an internal group to finalise norms for introducing iris-based biometric Permanent Account Numbers (PANs) for all income tax payers.

Similarly, the Ministry of Home Affairs is toying with the idea of introducing biometrics-based citizen identity cards and even biometric passports. This could be the turning point for the industry which is targeting an over Rs 1,800 crore turnover this year.

Arguably, the cheaper biometric solutions like fingerprint readers are now common on consumers devices like mobiles and laptops. This biometric application contributed more than 70 per cent in revenues to the domestic biometrics market last year.

PCs are safe no longer

Back in 1983, when virus researcher Fred Cohen coined the term ‘computer virus’ - referring to a programme code that can explicitly copy itself and has the ability to affect other programmes by modifying them or their environment - a lot has happened. Viruses of yore have turned into malware, broadly defined as software designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system.

The nightmare does not end here. Mutations of e-worms like Trojan horses, spyware, rootkits, dishonest adware, and other malicious software have crowded the cyber world.

Security vendors like McAfee, F-Secure, Symantec, MessageLabs and others agree that there will be a rise in the number of attacks seeking to capture a user's ID and password by displaying fake sign-in pages.

Analysts have also painted a grim picture about instant messaging (IM). Most web-based IM clients have become quite popular among the Web 2.0 generation. IM features like file transfers and webcam support, make it prone to the virus attacks and 2008 might just be the year for IM attacks in offices or home.

Flash memory

Mainstreaming of flash with several fabs being put into production happened early last year, with a vast majority of these fabs producing flash chips. We saw major technology companies introducing computers without disk drives, with flash being considerably faster and more durable.

With 64GB in flash memory now available, affordable, smaller solid-state disks will be hitting the mainstream in a big way, leading to more crash-resistant and faster laptops. The year 2008 will see flash-based storage making a move towards the datacentre both as a green and a faster access option.

Flash’s main contribution in India would be in making the handheld devices more competitive than the laptop PCs.